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Lachesis (genus)


South American bushmaster, L. muta
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Lachesis
Daudin, 1803
  • Lachesis - Daudin, 1803
  • Trigonocephalus - Oppel, 1811
  • Trigalus - Rafinesque, 1815
  • Cophias - Merrem, 1820[1]
Common names: bushmasters.

Lachesis is a genus of venomous pitvipers found in the remote, forested areas in Central and South America. The generic name refers to one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology; Lachesis determined the length of the thread of life.[2] Three species are currently recognized.[3]



Adults vary in length from 2 to 2.5 m, although and some may grow to as much as 3 m. The largest known specimen was just under 3.65 m, making it the longest venomous snake in the Western Hemisphere. This is also the longest viper, though not the heaviest (it is surpassed by the gaboon viper and the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake).

Geographic range

Found in Central and South America.[1] Also found on the island of Trinidad.[4]


Lachesis is the only neo-tropical pit viper that lays eggs: about a dozen in the average clutch. The female is reported to remain with the eggs during incubation and may aggressively defend the nest if approached. The hatchlings average 30 cm in length and are more colorful than the adults.


One of the largest and most dangerous snakes in South America, the Bushmaster is capable of multiple bite strikes, injecting large amount of venom and even the bite of a juvenile Bushmaster can be fatal.


Species[3] Authority[3] Subsp.*[3] Common name Geographic range[1]
L. melanocephala Solórzano and Cerdas, 1986 0 Black-headed bushmaster Costa Rica: Pacific versant of southeastern Puntarenas province from near sea level to about 1500 m.
L. mutaT (Linnaeus, 1766) 1 South American bushmaster South America in the equatorial forests east of the Andes: Colombia, eastern Ecuador, Peru, northern Bolivia, eastern and southern Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana and much of northern Brazil. It also occurs on the island of Trinidad.[4]
L. stenophrys Cope, 1875 0 Central American bushmaster In Central America it is found in the Atlantic lowlands of southern Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, as well as the Pacific lowlands of central and eastern Panama. In South America it occurs in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia and northwestern Ecuador, the Caribbean coast of northwestern Colombia and inland along the Magdalena and Cauca river valleys.

*) Not including the nominate subspecies (typical form).
T) Type species.

See also


  1. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ Campbell JA, Lamar WW. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. 2 volumes. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. 870 pp. 1500 plates. ISBN 0-8014-4141-2.
  3. ^ a b c d Lachesis (TSN 209555). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed on 25 October 2006.
  4. ^ a b List of Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago at Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Biodiversity Clearing House. Accessed 25 October 2006.

Further reading

  • Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  • O'Shea M. 2005. Venomous Snakes of the World. Princeton University Press. 160 pp. ISBN 0-691-12436-1.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lachesis_(genus)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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